Friday, June 24, 2016

Bold but Beautiful Barossa Wines from Hentley Farm

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Hentley Farm is a relatively new player in the Barossa Valley (considering this region's long and rich history), but they are producing some stellar wines. In the 1990s, founders Keith and Alison Hentschke purchased their 150-acre vineyard in the Seppeltsfield area. Their first Hentley Farm wines debuted in 2002. Two years later, they purchased the adjacent Clos Otto block, which is now the source of their high-end Shiraz.

Their wines display the classic Barossa depth and concentration, but I was surprised at the vibrancy and freshness of some of these wines. While the Clos Otto is truly a stunner of a wine (with a price tag to match) the relative value of the other Hentley Farm Shiraz offerings is very impressive.

The wines are crafted by Andrew Quin, a horticulturist turned winemaker who worked with St. Francis in Sonoma and Jacques Lurton in Bordeaux before returning to make wine in his native Australia.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Hentley Farm's estate vineyards are located in the red loam soils of Barossa Valley, South Australia. Credit: Hentley Farm

2015 Hentley Farm Riesling - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
SRP: $22
Lemon-lime color. Vibrant aromatic of sliced limes and white peaches, mixed in with honeysuckle, crushed chalk and new tennis balls. Precise acidity frames the wine, this is laser-like in its focus but generous in its mouthfeel and fruit (lime, white peach, honeydew, lychee). I get a lot of oil, chalk, minerals and honeysuckle as well, along with a flinty, smashed rock element that lights up the finish. Very pretty stuff, dry and bracing but plenty of flavor and significant power that will enable this to stand some cellar time. The fruit comes from two blocks planted in the late 70s and early 80s in gray sandy loam and granite. (89 points)

2015 Hentley Farm Rosé - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $20
Gorgeous strawberry/watermelon color. Bright and fresh but tons of fruit (strawberry, watermelon, red apple peel) along with a lovely spiced tea and rose hip essence. Medium+ bodied, this is ripe and velvety but the acidity stays tart and fresh. More watermelon and tart strawberry, with some candied apple peel. I also get some white peppery spice, crushed shells and floral perfume. A fuller style but still so bright and refreshing. Grenache and Syrah. (88 points)

2015 Hentley Farm Shiraz - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $28
Bright purple color. The aromas are rich and dark, with blackberries, plums and black cherries, along with violets, clay and some mocha. Full-bodied and saucy but pleasant, this shows smooth but structured tannins, which are balanced by moderate acid that keeps the wine from being heavy. Flavors of juicy black cherries and blackberries mix with elements of fallen leaves, sweet eucalyptus, vanilla and hints of pepper and earth. Big but suave, this is drinking nicely now but could be tamed in the cellar for a few years for sure. Aged 10 months in 15% new French oak Sourced from seven blocks in estate vineyards at Seppeltsfield. (88 points)

2014 Hentley Farm Cabernet Sauvignon - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $28
Deep currant, purple color. Smells of fresh black currants and cherries, a lovely earth and savory herbal characteristic along with some coffee grounds. Full but silky with structured but fine tannins and some fresh acidity that keeps it in check. Juicy black cherries, cassis, the fruit has a tart and fresh edge. Notes of rose petals, bay leaf and clove, the toast and coffee elements are subtle and woven in well. Quite pretty now but I could see holding this for three or four years at least. (87 points)

2015 Hentley Farm The Stray Mongrel - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $28
Vibrant ruby color. I love these spicy, smoky, meaty notes that mix in with all sorts of red fruit (from tart strawberry to raspberry jam) — lots going on but the aromas are nuanced. Full-bodied but so vibrant with fine tannins and bright acidity, which keeps the wine fresh and forward. Jammy raspberries and strawberries mix with some roasted plum elements, the fruit is blended with earth, white pepper, green herbs and a streak of smoky-bacony goodness. Delicious now, but could open up in the cellar. Loving the vibrancy of this wine despite the 14.7% alcohol. A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Zinfandel. (89 points)

The Beauty, The Beast & Clos Ott - a stunning Shiraz trio.
2013 Hentley Farm Shiraz The Beauty - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $60
Dark purple color. Needs a bit of air to show the full spectrum of its rich, dark fruit (blueberry, boysenberry, black cherry). I also get some violets, sweet pipe tobacco, black pepper and eucalyptus. A saucy but well-structured wine with sturdy tannins. I'm really surprised by the acidity, which cleans the wine up on the palate and keeps me wanting more. Gorgeous and pure fruit, tart but full, rich but silky, pretty much all the black and blue fruit you can imagine. Accents of pepper, soy, eucalyptus add complexity, and there's a fresh sense of rocky soil minerality as well. The vanilla, coffee and toast are integrated well. Gorgeous. I love it's youthfulness but this is definitely a candidate for five-to-eight years in the cellar. This spends 14 months in 40% new French oak. (92 points) 

2012 Hentley Farm Shiraz The Beast - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $85
Dense purple color. Bold aromas of saucy but tart black and blue fruit (blackberry, blueberry and tart black cherries). I get a lot of smoke, scorched earth, charcoal notes, which weave together with graphite, soy and eucalyptus. Full-bodied (of course, as the name and appellation suggest) but this wine has velvety tannins and some moderating acidity that keeps this beast of a wine tamed. The blackberry, blueberry and boysenberry fruit is pure, lively, ripe and tart. Such purity and vibrancy in this fruit, it’s straight up delicious, too. Loads of smoke, loamy soil, coffee, dark chocolate mixed in with notes of eucalyptus, white pepper, soy and cedar. Long, warm finish. A beast of a wine, sure, but beautiful as well as will get even more so with five or seven years in the cellar. (93 points)

2012 Hentley Farm Shiraz Clos Otto - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $165
Deep purple color. The aromas unravel to show saucy plums, berry compote, blueberry and currant jams, but the non-fruit complexities packed in here are really impressive: smoked meat, cracked pepper, charcoal, clove, dark roast coffee, vanilla. This is a deep and bold wine that needs time or a good decant to show its full aromatic potential. Full and velvety on the palate, this has some refreshing and surprising acidity and some sturdy tannins, so the structure is wonderful. Flavors of plum cake, boysenberry, blueberry and currant compote, the fruit is big but also pure, even elegant. Black olive, pepper, charcoal, earth, coffee and ginger snap cookie add all sorts of complexity. With time, more and more earth and spice flavors come out. Needs four-to-five years at least, but this is a beauty. From a low-yielding, east-facing, red clay block in the estate. (94 points)

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